Racism: Are We Cured Yet?

Racism is a crippling component associated with present-day society; it terminates the essence of cooperation, pits resident against resident, and prevents society from reaching its full potential. Though a leader on the global stage both politically and economically, the United States continues to struggle with issues of racism within its own borders, especially here, in the state of Michigan. With an estimated population of nearly 1.5 million residents, Michigan is home to one of the largest African-American population in the United States. In the face of the obstacles knocking on America’s door, a number of individuals believe that racism against African Americans in the United States has been dwindling or shifting away. They also believe that Blacks in this country tend to get a bit too offended by the media; proclaiming that “all lives matter,” not only the black lives. But is racism a really less of an issue today? Well, the statistics have proven otherwise.

Wealth inequality is on top of the racial discrimination pyramid. There’s an enormous mismatch in wealth between white Americans and non-white Americans. According to a Demos analysis of Federal Reserve data, white Americans in 2010 held more than 88 percent of the country’s wealth, though they only made up 64 percent of the population. Black Americans held 2.7 percent of the country’s wealth, though they made up 13 percent of the population.

According to Braden Goyette of the Huffington Post, employers are more likely to turn away job seekers if they have African-American-sounding names. Applicants with white-sounding names get one callback per 10 resumes sent while those with African-American-sounding names get one callback per 15 resumes, according to a 2003 National Bureau of Economic Research report. “Based on our estimates,” the researchers wrote, “a White name yield as many more callbacks as an additional eight years of experience.”

Besides this, prison sentences of black males are almost twice as long as white males. According to Joe Palazzollo, a writer in the Wall Street Journal, “Prison sentences of black men were nearly 20% longer than those of white men for similar crimes in recent years, an analysis by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found. The racial gap has widened since the Supreme Court restored judicial discretion in sentencing in 2005, according to the Sentencing Commission’s findings. Between December 2007 and September 2011, the analysis also found that black males were 25% less likely than whites in the same period to receive a sentence below the guidelines’ range.”

How about education? Some economists have suggested that better education would both help the poor and boost the total economy. With that being said, Black and Latino students are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. Almost 40 percent of black and Hispanic students attend schools where more than 90 percent of students are nonwhite. The average white student attends a school where 77 percent of his or her peers are also white.

Moreover, as early as preschool, black students are punished more frequently, and more harshly, for misbehaving than their white counterparts. “Black children represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but 42 percent of the preschool children suspended once, and 48 percent of the preschool children suspended more than once,” says a Department of Education report.

Here in Michigan, the Flint water crisis headlined national news outlets. Word has been floating around stating that this would have never happened in a wealthy white city; Flint was neglected because it serves a major black population living in poverty. During the Democratic Debate in Flint a couple of days ago, Bernie Sanders, United States Senator, and Democratic candidate touched on this. “When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor. You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car,” Sanders said.

In addition, Michael Moore, documentarian and Flint native, said in a tweet “This is a racial killing. Flint MI is 60% black. When [you] knowingly poison a black city, [you] [are] committing a version of genocide.” NAACP President Cornell Brooks also highlighted the connection between Flint’s socioeconomic dynamics and the toxic water. “Environmental Racism + Indifference = Lead in the Water & Blood,” he tweeted.

With all this in mind, in a rather fresh interview on “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast, the comedian and the Commander in Chief were discussing racism in America after the killing of nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina last summer. Obama said: “Racism. We are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200-300 years prior.” Consequently, isn’t it displeasing that the United States President can barely mend racism? Obama’s inability, as one of the most powerful heads in the world, to end racism helps demonstrate its severity and status as a current issue.

Racism is a monumental dilemma that keeps orbiting across the time lapse of a seemingly perpetual custom in American civilization deriving from simple hatred and superiority towards one another. Racism is strictly abhorrent; it causes tension between divergent groups in our diverse community. To make America great again, this dilemma that is promoting bigotry must be met head-on. The status quo of events today can be reformed, and joining the cause against racial discrimination is a crucial first step in order to encounter the real America.